So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Monday, February 1, 2016

Indig-nation. The Liturgy redone, undone, not done.

People behaving badly toward the Liturgy.

Due to the willful or woeful ignorance of priests and pushy laity who don't know the first thing about reverent liturgy, or perhaps purposefully avoid taking care with the rites, little hope remains that Masses in certain dioceses will be anything close to authentic Catholic liturgical worship any time soon. Where there are a few good priests celebrating reverently, misguided musicians clutter the Mass with heterodox or trite saccharine songs played on out-of-tune instruments that are better situated in a bar than in a church. Pushy laity promenade up and down the aisle performing "liturgical dance" while attempting to justify their puerile experiments by defending their incursion as an enhancement of the Liturgy (as if the Liturgy needs enhancing by anything other than a faithful realization of the liturgical norms which envision beautiful and reverent liturgies in every respect), failing to realize, of course, that Sacrosanctum Concilium 22 (3) expressly forbids such tinkerings.

All the expected human eccentricities of the faithful would be easier to embrace if Mass itself wasn't so badly celebrated and obscured by lax attention to the rubrics and poor preparation. When the Mass becomes a wellspring poisoned by abuse of one kind or another, the temptation to seek another water source becomes great.

When bishops and priests cannot stick to the script (text of the Mass) and defend their departures with flippant disregard for all authority but their own—an authority that should conform to Sacred Tradition—there is little left to do but pray, bid the offenders farewell and seek a home where the Mass is reverently celebrated.

Company loves misery.

It is easier some days than others to understand how someone schooled in a deep liturgical spirituality would depart from these sullied Roman shores and make a switch to another Catholic rite where the Divine Liturgy is celebrated reverently. Given constant exposure to liturgical abuses, such a switch would be a prudent course of action to take for the sake of one's eternal soul. Such a change of venue would, for at least a little while, allow for the recovery of a sense of equilibrium while dwelling among those belonging to a rite where folk are not constantly at war with themselves over the fundamental importance of Tradition and reverent liturgy.

Every community has its problems. There is no escaping from everyday human idiocy, one's own included. That said, some parishes have more problems than others. The Roman Catholic Church definitely has serious problems, enough problems to drive away people who, caring as much as they do about the Mass, are marginalized by arrogant men and women who co-opt the Mass and, though labouring under the false assumption they are doing the Lord's work, merely corrupt it to their own ends.

Where there are pockets of reverence for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the West, vocations have appeared and even flourished. Holes are appearing in those pockets. Liturgical reverence is again evaporating and being replaced with a cult of personality and trite or Catholic-lite (catholite?) approaches to the solemn rites of the Church. Solemnity is replaced with somnolence. The dishevelling of one diocese as much as any other coincides with the mess returning within the Church as a whole. Haven't we had enough of a mess? Give us Holy Mass, not an unholy mess!

Banality ascending.

What is it with God's people? Are they so threatened by beauty and goodness and truth that they have to turn the sanctuary of the Lord into a circus in some vain attempt to relieve their own inadequate formation in the Faith? Is it too soon to ask God for another Pope Saint Gregory the Great to set things in order? Pope Benedict did what he could, and his Reform of the Reform will be felt in the Church for generations. Papa Benedict, for many invigorated by his heroic witness to the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, bailed far too soon. The light he lit is flickering because a door has been opened to an ill wind.

If the Mass cannot be prayed as it is meant to be prayed, the source and summit of the Faith is lowered (by abuse) to the level of a garbage dump, cluttered, as it were, by the detritus that is liberal or progressive religion.

The fact that a Mass can be so poorly celebrated and still remain valid is a weak argument against leaving. It can be an excuse to allow abuse to persist. If people are content with doing nothing to improve the manner in which the Mass is celebrated, that is reason enough to flee the company of people indifferent to or who have acquiesced to or have become habituated to liturgical abuse.

Kyrie eleison.
Domine miserere nobis.
Lord have mercy.

2 comments:

  1. If people are content with doing nothing to improve the manner in which the Mass is celebrated, that is reason enough to flee the company of people indifferent to or who have acquiesced to or have become habituated to liturgical abuse.

    And this is why, just this past week, I informed our beloved pastor that my family would soon be moving to our Ordinariate parish for Sunday Mass. I gave him a few months' notice so that we could complete our existing parish responsibilities (two altar servers, one lector, and a very reluctant EMHC), but it is a move we have been contemplating for several months. We can no longer bear to worship God with divided hearts.

    The breaking point came last Sunday, during the wretched new "opening song" that our Music Minister had insisted on rehearsing with the congregation prior to Mass for two weeks running. Unsurprisingly, it was yet another throwaway piece of musical jetsam that no-one will remember a few years hence, no better or worse than any other of the self-celebrating ditties so beloved of Baby Boomer liturgists. But while I was chuckling at the awfulness of the lyrics and the fact that few were bothering to sing along, it suddenly struck me: It's never going to get better. And almost at that very moment, my wife turned to me and said, "We have to leave."

    It's a sad decision. Our pastor is our father in the Faith, the man who more than anyone else is responsible for our entry into the Church, and we often wonder if we'd have made it through if we'd chosen St. J's, HC, or SH as our parish. He celebrates the Mass with great reverence, but I don't know if he realizes to what extent his unquestionable orthodoxy is undermined by the banality--and occasional heterodoxy--of the music. This is especially apparent during sombre liturgies like those of Ash Wednesday or Good Friday, in which the music often seems specifically selected to subvert the penitential character of the Mass, but it is a perennial feature at our parish.

    More generally, I was jolted at the same Mass by the realization that the Novus Ordo is a complete mess. It's choppy, it has no organic flow: now we do this, now we do that, now we robotically sing a single line from a psalm while a cantor warbles from the loft, now a layperson (occasionally me) reads some topical prayer intentions, now a bunch of laypeople "present the gifts" (why?) while we sing another ditty, now another bunch of laypeople enters the sanctuary and sanitize their hands before distributing Holy Communion, now we all shuffle forward to receive, chow-line style, and so on. We're told that the Mass is one long prayer, but you never get a sense of that in the Novus Ordo, since different things keep happening, and there's rarely a moment's silence. Worst of all, it seems fundamentally designed to affirm us, to make us comfortable, and to never present us with anything that might threaten our complacency.

    By contrast, we walked into the Ordinariate Mass for Sexagesima yesterday morning just as the chanted Introit was beginning (tardy teenagers!), and the contrast could not have been more striking. The entire liturgy flows organically, with no artificial "participation" moments, and the entire focus is on God and the necessity of humility and repentance before such a great gift. It was a long and hard decision, but the right one for our souls.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "The breaking point came last Sunday, during the wretched new "opening song" that our Music Minister had insisted on rehearsing with the congregation prior to Mass for two weeks running. Unsurprisingly, it was yet another throwaway piece of musical jetsam that no-one will remember a few years hence, no better or worse than any other of the self-celebrating ditties so beloved of Baby Boomer liturgists. But while I was chuckling at the awfulness of the lyrics and the fact that few were bothering to sing along, it suddenly struck me: It's never going to get better. And almost at that very moment, my wife turned to me and said, "We have to leave.""

    Murray—that is a paragraph that should be read by every pastor and which should pierce the heart of every priest and liturgical minister. I thank God that you have the Ordinariate.

    I cannot say I did not see your move coming. Our exchanges have confirmed for me, too, a trajectory that must lead away from the din of the Ordinary Form as it is most frequently celebrated on Sundays. I miss the campus Mass at UVic, which was/is reverent and coherent and transparent to the Presence of the Lord. My absence from that liturgy is due to mounting work related pressures on my schedule and the time at which the Liturgy is offered. When I had access to a reverent daily Mass four times a week, the cacophonous Sunday Masses didn't impact as deeply. It seems my spiritual skin or armour has grown thinner since not having access to the daily Mass.

    You decision is a good one, knowing how much you have already parsed the topic here and with your family.

    Peace be with you and your family!

    P.S.—As a fellow convert who survived HC of the 1980s—one survivor among 12 catechumens!—and as one who repeatedly witnessed the poor formation of many people at SH and SJ's who have left or are shacking up with another person because someone left out the 'conversion means real change' sermon, I survived by going to St. P's, then a bastion of orthodoxy and liturgical sanity, where I learned from priests and parishioners the real Catholic story. The formation I received from many a good soul at SP's has provided me with the wherewithal to endure the wackiness about which we speak.—Isten (W)
    P.P.S.—I can taste the hand sanitizer of which you speak every time I receive Holy Communion (on the tongue, of course!) at St. A's.

    ReplyDelete

"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.